I want to preface this by saying that my heart has never been closer to Jesus than it has been over the last 6 months. I have a never grown closer to Jesus more on a daily basis than leading a church plant. I know that God is Gracious, Glorious, Great, and Good. He is so GOOD. He is so GRACIOUS. He is so GLORIOUS. He is so GREAT. I embrace these things not always perfectly but I submit to Jesus daily. I love Jesus more than anything. I follow Him first and foremost.
Here is the Ugly truth about Church Planting that they will never tell you in books, conferences, or seminary.
Church Planting is not what it seems.
When you talk about planting a church people make it sound very glamorous. They make it sound like everyone will be on board with what you are doing and that God will move. You only hear stories of great success and it seems as if what they are doing is flawless. These things are not true. It is tough. It will be the toughest thing that you ever do.
Here are 10 things I have learned about Church Planting that they never will tell you before you plant a church.
1. People will not support you.
From the beginning expect that people you think should be supporting you will not. You would naturally assume that people would get on board with the idea that there is a new work of God happening to reach a different set of people that aren’t currently being reached that people would get excited. Nope. You might find a small handful of people that support what you are doing but very few will. I’ve learned that the biggest supporters of me are fellow church planters. So, immediately find a group of church planters for your support system. There will be people that will support you ask them to be on your team if possible. If not, then ask them to pray for you.
2. People will abandon you.
Some of your best friends will abandon you and leave your church. You will take it personally. They will go back to what is comfortable. Some of them may never talk to you again and you will have no idea why they left. One minute they will be as excited and as passionate as you are then the next disappear. Remind yourself that God loves you and you are approved by Him no matter what.
3. People will call you the devil or think it.
Because you don’t have the vision that they have or execute church the way that they want to then of course you must be the devil. You will be accused of not being spiritual because you don’t pray or preach the way their former pastor preached and prayed. Maybe the Holy Spirit is convicting them and they don’t know how to deal with it so you are the devil. (I actually got called the Devil once. Cool story.)
4. Very few people will be excited about your call from God.
You will hear very clearly from God. God will break your heart for something powerful and call you into something incredible. You will be extremely pumped about it. You will tell people about it and show them from scripture how God is calling you to live as a church. Very few people will actually follow you in your call. What I am learning is that some will follow you and those are the people with whom you invest your time.
5. You will be tempted to compromise your call.
If you hear from God and start pursuing His calling for your church community people will leave the church. It’s gonna happen. You see, up until you announce what God is calling your new community to, people are all excited to be around something new. People are pumped that they are part of this new work that has unlimited potential. They also all have expectations and agendas for how the church should be. Once you clarify and they realize that what God has called you to isn’t what their expectation is they will be gone.
6. Key leaders will fall into sin.
I have seen it in multiple church plants. Moral failure will take over. Not just the obvious moral failure such as sexual sin but also moral failure in respecting the elders of the church. Odds are in a church plant you will need to remove a leader for a variety of reasons. These are not easy decisions. These will hurt your momentum as a church plant. I have learned that the primary purpose of the church is to make disciples and that starts with your leaders. Will you compromise your disciplemaking call to people please?
7. You will stress about money.
God is Great and He owns it all. God will provide proving it over and over again that He is in control. But the fact will remain that you will stress about it. You didn’t start a church to make money but if you want to do much as a church community you will need some money to make it happen.
8. People will quit.
Heck you might even quit. It gets hard. Being the harvester that tills the soil, removes the rocks, & cuts the weeds is in for a lot of hard work. It’s not for everyone. There probably is a right time to quit. That right time is when God says so. But so many will quit before God says so.
9. People will talk about you and your family behind your back.
It might be good, it might be bad, and it could help your cause. But just know that people will watch everything you, your wife, and your kids do. Then they will talk about you. They will make judgements about you and your church without ever knowing reality or talking to you about it. You need champions for you. You need a few people that know everything about you that have influence that can defend you, your family, and your calling.
10. Everything that could go wrong will probably go wrong.
Staff will fail you. People will leave. Leaders will quit. Your expectations will not be met. Your family will be attacked. The enemy will probably go after your wife. There will be seasons where you wonder if anything went right.
Church Planting is the hardest thing that you will ever have to do. But it is also the greatest experience you will ever have. I love being a church planter and would never trade it.
You are God’s Marine. Church Planting gets ugly because you are on the front lines of the kingdom of God. You are moving to where no one has ever gone before and establishing a beach head. Your job might be to move the line a couple of feet and have someone else actually establish the beachhead. Maybe God will use you to push the line far forward into enemy territory.
We just recently celebrated D-Day. There were 5 different beaches that the Allied troops attacked. Some were harder to win than others. We are all attacking different beaches. This is why it is stupid to compare ourselves to others. Their beach is different than ours.
Here is the beautiful thing about Church Planting: JESUS HAS WON! He has already done it. He builds His church. Wherever your church is at is exactly where God wants it. You are a Son or Daughter of the King. He loves you dearly and will give you everything that you need.
I’m proud to be a church planter. I’m proud of my team that is in the trenches with me. I love each of them dearly. I know God is going to move His line forward and I can’t wait to see what He does.